Yoga Nidra

Recently I spent a day at a yoga ashram where I got to experience Yoga Nidra, a relaxing lying down meditation (I sat in a chair due to injuries, but I think it would be preferable to be lying down, if suitable). Yoga nidra is the deepest possible state of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. It is that state of between being awake or asleep, and you remain aware of your environment while being in a dream-like state. Although some people do find it hard to keep awake during this meditation!

We began by tensing the muscles in different muscles of our body, then relaxing them. Our minds were brought to examine the physical environment outside the room and inside the room. Visualized imagery was used, as well as a personal affirmation called San Kalpa, which is a short positive statement of intent of what you want to change in your life. It is an instruction from your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which should be uttered in the present tense as if it is already happening.

I opened my eyes after a 30-minute yoga nidra session and felt like I had slept for hours, when I had been completely awake and aware the whole time. I felt like I didn’t want to move; I was connected to my body – in that moment I was not feeling any pain, and it felt amazing:).

Regular practise of Yoga Nidra is helpful to rest, restore, and renew the whole body, mind, and spirit,  to process and release stress and tension that can lead to physical, emotional, and mental disturbances. Studies have shown that a single hour of Yoga Nidra is as restful and refreshing as four hours of sleep.

Yoga Nidra may:

Reduce chronic pain; strengthen immune system; lower blood pressure; reduce anxiety, depression, and addiction; balance the nervous system; calm and stabilize mind and emotions; reduce or eliminate pain medication; reduce or eliminate insomnia; strengthen endocrine system; lower cholesterol levels; effectively reduce PTSD (was involved in a study on soldiers with PTSD and subsequently used as a tool for them); remove unwanted physical and mental stresses and tensions, and enhance creativity.

So look up a yoga nidra practise today (I found one on You Tube), or even better find a yoga centre that includes yoga nidra in their classes, and get ready to relax:).

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Be still, be present, just breathe.

Recently I was watching one of my favourite reality shows, and was dismayed to see one of the young (28) male’s come closing to having a heart attack. He hardly ever took enough time to eat, to sleep, to slow down, to stop, to listen to his body, and just breathe. Being hooked up to numerous wires was a wake-up call for him. He realised he wasn’t present in his life. For a person who loved life with a passion, he was close to losing it. He sat down, closed his eyes for a minute, and just breathed. There he was, in the stillness, in the here and now.

I’ve been guilty of not being still within myself for an extended period. I thought to be still was to be wasting time, because I wanted to do everything, and do it now. I didn’t realise that not taking that time out would lead to prolonged illness for me. Humans have a capacity to push themselves past their self-imposed limits and sometimes that’s okay, because they surprise themselves by achieving more than they ever thought possible, and they realise it was their mind that was holding them back. But there’s a difference between pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do, and ignoring the warning signs that you’ve done too much.

Some people think inaction is a bad thing. But without inaction, your action may suffer. The stillness allows you to become more self-aware of what is going on around you, your thoughts, to catch your breath, to allow calmness that can then permeate through your body, and your day. Find comfort in stillness, and become good at it. Go inward at least once a day, to radiate calm outwards, even within the midst of chaos!

Try it now – stop what you are doing, sit down for a minute, close your eyes, breathe into your belly, focus on your breath, be aware of it, open your eyes, smile and remember to breathe as you go about your day. Practise, practise. The more you practise the easier it will be to experience calm, to cope with the madness. Take the de-stress pill called stillness.

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